CARTHAGE, Mo. —
There's not much action happening in my garden. I take all the blame. I was overzealous at the beginning, planting some of everything and ending up with an overgrown mess.
I have plenty of excuses. Mosquitoes make weeding miserable. The heat makes watering the half-dead plants seem futile, and there's so much work that needs to be done inside my house all of a sudden.
The truth is, I'm hiding from my garden.
Ironically, the remedy is to do more gardening. Planting a fall garden is the cure, I'm sure of it. One morning in the near future, I will wake up and have an extra cup of coffee. Or four.
I will cover any exposed skin in order to avoid malaria. I will be merciless in pulling up plants that are past their prime. In the end, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, peppers and a rogue pumpkin will be all that's left standing.
Next, I will plant seeds in an orderly fashion. There will be greens galore. Kale, spinach, lettuce and turnip greens will have a place in my tidy fall garden. I was so pleased with my spring beets and their tops that I'm more than ready for them to have a second showing. I may even get frisky and plant arugula to add a spicy kick to our fall salads.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves -- there are still plenty of tomatoes, peppers, squash and corn to be had in our gardens and farmers markets.
Plant your fall garden, but don't let the end-of-summer veggies go to the birds. The thought of tomato pie may turn you off at first, but don't let your mind overrule your gut on this one. Fresh tomatoes and other summer veggies can be layered into a rich, flaky crust and enjoyed as a main course.
Try these recipes for a few final tastes of summer.
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 large onions, thinly sliced
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
21/2 to 3 pounds cherry tomatoes
3 tablespoons whole-wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese (21/4 ounces), plus 1 tablespoon for sprinkling
11/2 cups heavy cream, plus more for brushing
To make the filling: Heat oil in a large, high-sided skillet over medium heat. Cook onions, stirring occasionally, until caramelized, about 25 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Let cool.
Toss onion mixture, tomatoes, flour and red pepper flakes with 11/2 teaspoons salt and some pepper. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
To make the biscuit topping: Whisk together flour, baking powder and 1 teaspoon salt in a bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry cutter. Stir in cheese, then add cream, stirring with a fork to combine until dough forms. (Dough will be sticky.)
Transfer tomato mixture to a 2-quart baking dish. Spoon 7 clumps of biscuit dough (about 1/2 cup each) over top in a circle, leaving center open. Brush dough with cream and sprinkle with remaining tablespoon of cheese. Bake until tomatoes are bubbling in the center and biscuits are golden brown, about 50 to 60 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack. Let cool for 20 minutes.
Adapted from lottieanddoof.com
Tomato bacon sipper
1 clove garlic
5 fresh basil leaves
2 teaspoons lime juice
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
2 medium ripe red tomatoes, halved
11/2 ounces vodka, gin or lemon seltzer
1 tablespoons pepper bacon, chopped and crisp-cooked
1/2 teaspoon Asian chili sauce (Sriracha)
Tomato slices, romaine lettuce leaf and crisp bacon for garnish
In a cocktail shaker or jar, combine garlic, basil, lime juice and celery salt. Using a muddler or wooden spoon, mash mixture to combine. Add tomatoes; mash until smooth and well incorporated. Add liquor, bacon, chili sauce and ice to fill. Cover; shake well for 20 to 30 seconds.
Strain mixture through a wire mesh strainer over a liquid measuring cup. Using the back of a spoon, press out all the juice. Discard solids. Pour mixture into an ice-filled glass. Garnish with tomatoes, lettuce and bacon.
Source: Better Homes and Gardens magazine
Sweet corn, squash and pepper hash with black beans
2 cups summer squash, thinly sliced
2 bell peppers, seeded and chopped
2 ears of corn, kernels removed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 (16-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Hot sauce for garnishing (optional)
In a cast-iron skillet or other pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until it begins to soften. Add the garlic and saute for another minute.
Add the squash, corn and peppers. Cook until beginning to soften (about 5 minutes). Stir in the beans, brown rice and cilantro. Cook for another few minutes, until the vegetables have finished cooking. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.
To serve, spoon the hash onto a plate. Garnish with chopped cilantro, if desired. Serve with hot sauce.
Have questions? Email them to email@example.com or mail her c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802.